We’ll all remember where we were the day we got the news that Hot Doug’s was closing up shop. In turn, October 3rd, 2014 will be a similarly harrowing occasion: Chicago flags will fly at half-mast, everyone will pour out a little mustard, and there shall forever be a sausage-shaped hole left in the heart of the city. In an effort to avoid this dystopian, Doug’s-less future, we’ve struck up an open letter to owner Doug Sohn, gracefully begging him not close down his encased meat emporium.
We heard the news that you’re planning to shut down Hot Doug’s, and needless to say, we’re not taking it well. It’s been a whirlwind of emotions, and we’re having trouble holding it together (much like your graciously packed Chicago Dog).
Before we roll around on battling nitrate withdrawals, we beg of you: please don’t close.
In a city basically fueled by tubular meat, Hot Doug’s is wiener Valhalla. Every child dreams of one day being named a celebrity sausage, or having a lifetime of free food for the mere price of a tattoo.
After the first taste of a fry cooked to golden flawlessness in rendered duck fat, all other fries are a crinkle-cut below. We swooned when you served your duck sausage in defiance of the city’s foie gras ban, helping put the nail in Alderman Joe Moore’s crusade against tasty duck liver.
You’ve had locals lining up like tourists for a decade. What more can we do, other than line up by the hundreds?
Is money an issue? We’ll start a Kickstarter right now to get Derrick Rose to play a charity basketball game in a hot dog costume (just curious... would you settle for Mike Dunleavy?)
Are you bored after winning every conceivable restaurant award? We could nominate you for non-food awards -- surely there’s a Pulitzer Prize for menu writing.
Are you worried about jumping the shark? Because, hell, we’d try shark sausage if you were making it AND we wouldn’t bitch about how the place was better 10 years ago.
You’ve said, "It’s time to do something else.” That’s fine, but that “something else” could be, “I carve canoes out of trees by hand, that is, when I’m not serving the best damn hot dogs in the city”. Please reconsider the permanence of Hot Doug’s vacation, maybe take a few months off, do some soul-searching, see what non-Chiberian Winters are like, and come back fresh as an andouille sausage.
Your Loyal Dog Fans
Sean Cooley is Thrillist's Chicago Editor, and he can't imagine having to explain his Hot Doug's t-shirt in the future. Follow him @SeanCooley.